Decentralized finance is here. Let’s use it to support history.
TL;DR — I’ve launched $JASON coin on the Rally network. It’s a real cryptocurrency, which means it can be exchanged for other currencies like Bitcoin or US Dollars. The currency will be used to support public historians and history communicators doing public-facing history work. Buy and hold $JASON coin and you’ll help build a new economy for public history. You’ll also get special perks. Welcome to $JASON coin.
Two things are happening simultaneously:
(1) Public history is struggling financially, and
(2) Decentralized finance is booming.
The pandemic has devastated public history. By public history I mean the historians, archivists, preservationists and park rangers who serve in museums, historic sites, historical societies, archives and state and local governments — industries hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2020, Newport, Rhode Island, laid off 69 percent of its staff at its 11 historic homes and mansions; the Minnesota Historical Society laid off 176 employees and furloughed 139 workers; the National September 11 Memorial & Museum laid off 148 workers and furloughed 51 employees; the Museum of Jewish Heritage, New York, cut more than 40 percent of its staff; the Science History Institute laid off 14 employees; and the Brooklyn Museum laid off 26 people. These are just a few examples.
Job insecurity is the norm for public historians. Part-time and temporary work are common. Public historians with full-time jobs earn average salaries between $38,000 and $48,000 per year. Meanwhile, state budget cuts risk closing historic sites altogether. In Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Historical Society has endured nine straight years of funding cuts.
It’s time for new funding models.
At the same time, decentralized finance has been thriving. Hundreds of cryptocurrencies exist. New financial products are being created. Income is being generated (there are now more than 100,000+ crypto millionaires). Governments are experimenting with digital currencies. The time is right to consider how decentralized finance could help sustain public history.
· Public historians could generate income via digital currencies, outside of declining state budgets and 20th-century funding models.
· Public historians could write books, make YouTube videos, and launch podcasts — and get paid by sponsors, their supporters and each other using crypto.
· Visitors to a museum or state park could support a curator or a tour guide directly through cryptocurrencies.
· Journalists and media companies could pay public historians for their insights, television appearances and citing their work by using cryptocurrencies.
· Fellowships and grants could be awarded to students, recent graduates and history communicators, paid in cryptocurrency.
· The 100,000+ new crypto millionaires could usher in a new age of philanthropy by donating crypto to the historians who preserve our communities’ heritage and sustain the institutions that make our country vibrant.
For these reasons and more, I’ve teamed up with Rally.io to launch $JASON coin. $JASON coin is a cryptocurrency pegged to the $RLY token. It can be exchanged for U.S. Dollars ($2.12) at time of writing.
My hope is to use $JASON coin to support public historians and history communication projects. As more $JASON coin circulates, a portion of the proceeds will go directly to historians telling, preserving and interpreting our history.
History lovers can use $JASON coin to support historians in their communities. It will supplement their income and help support their ideas. It’ll get more research and knowledge into the public sphere. One day, it might even sustain the public history economy. As more $JASON coin circulates, it will be put back into the public history economy to support public historians and their work.
So, let’s get $JASON coin into circulation and use it to support public history. Buy some $JASON coin. Send $JASON coin to a friend. Use it to make purchases. Just by putting it into circulation, you’ll help its value. You’ll also get special perks, including:
· Sneak previews of new research;
· Access to special programming;
· History Club merch and swag;
· Decision-making power into which history projects receive $JASON coin funds.
Visit rally.io; create a free account; convert USD or other currency into $JASON coin, and let’s start funding more public history. The 20th century models are not supporting public historians well enough. It’s time for 21st century models.
Welcome to $JASON coin.
P.S. — We’ll be talking about cryptocurrencies and public history in the History Club on Clubhouse on Thursday, May 6 at 10:00 pm ET. Join us!
Jason Steinhauer served as founding director of the Lepage Center for History in the Public Interest; is a Senior Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute; and is a contributor to CNN and TIME. He’s currently writing a book about how history gets communicated on the Internet, and hosts the History Club every Thursday night at 10 p.m. ET. Find him on Clubhouse @JasonSteinhauer and on the Rally network.